Francis E. Bagrowski, 80, sign installer

November 26, 2005

Francis E. Bagrowski, a retired sign installer and longtime SS John W. Brown volunteer, died of cardiac arrest Wednesday at his Hanover, Anne Arundel County, home. He was 80.

Mr. Bagrowski was born and raised in Hanover and attended Anne Arundel County public schools. During the early days of World War II, he worked at Maryland Shipbuilding & Drydock Co. in Fairfield, where one of his jobs was installing glow-in-the-dark emergency tape on the steps, doors and passageways of Liberty ships.

He once estimated that he had installed the safety tape on hundreds of ships, family members said.

Denied entry into the merchant marine during World War II because of a punctured eardrum, he persisted and finally went to sea after the war as an ordinary seaman, an able seaman, a mess-man, a wiper and a fireman-water tender on the Fenn Victory and the Liberty ships James Miller, Charles Nordhoff and Ransome A. Moore among other vessels.

After leaving the sea in the late 1940s, he held several jobs before going to work in 1956 installing electric and neon signs for Litsinger Sign Co. He left the company in 1977 when he established his own firm, Stash's Sign Service, which he continued operating until retiring about a decade ago.

Mr. Bagrowski was a longtime volunteer with Project Liberty Ship, which restored, owns and operates the SS John W. Brown.

Known as "The Linen Man" aboard the John W. Brown, Mr. Bagrowski was in charge of all the vessel's sheets, pillow cases, towels and other shipboard linens.

He was a duckpin bowler and enjoyed studying the Constitution.

A memorial service will be held at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in the chapel of the John W. Brown, Pier One, South Clinton Street, Canton.

Surviving are his wife of 56 years, the former Stella Wlodarczyk; three sons, Francis E. Bagrowski Jr. of Baltimore, Andrew O. Bagrowski of Temple, Texas, and Robert Lee Bagrowski of Leesburg, Va.; and a grandson.

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